It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.
In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers. I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.
Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.
Since I have New Orleans on my mind, we begin our second act with a grisly blast from the past:
The Xenophobic Axeman Of New Orleans: There’s a swell story in the Smithsonian Magazine by Miriam Davis about the Axeman of New Orleans who committed a series of murders in 1918-1919 that remain unsolved to this very day. Now that’s a cold case.
The Axeman did not like immigrants, especially Italians. He didn’t even pick on the “lazy” among them: he went after grocers and their families. One might call him a proto-Trumper BUT there are many Italo-Americans among them. Perhaps they could reconsider but I suspect axing, like resistance, would be futile.
Teevee viewers out there may recall that there was an Axeman subplot in American Horror Story: Coven. Make that the Axeman’s ghost as Danny Huston haunted the New Orleans witches. It was overstuffed nonsense but enjoyable overstuffed nonsense. More lucidly, New Orleans based crime fiction writer Julie Smith tackled the subject in a 1991 novel, The Axeman’s Jazz.
I checked out of AHS during the Hotel season despite my crush on Chloe Sevigny. As David Byrne would surely say at this juncture, it stopped making sense.
An earlier anthology show was an entirely different kettle of fish: no goo, gar or human heads in that pot.
The Twilight Zone Revisited: The Twilight Zone aired from 1959-1964 but most of the episodes remain compelling and relevant today. That’s down to series creator, producer, and narrator Rod Serling. He wrote 44 episodes and brought in some stellar scribblers to write the rest. Serling used sci-fi, horror, and thriller tropes to do some of the most incisive social commentary ever seen on network television or anywhere else for that matter.
The planet has been knocked off its elliptical orbit and overheats as it hurtles toward the sun; the night ceases to exist, oil paintings melt, the sidewalks in New York are hot enough to fry an egg on, and the weather forecast is “more of the same, only hotter.” Despite the unbearable day-to-reality of constant sweat, the total collapse of order and decency, and, above all, the scarcity of water, Norma can’t shake the feeling that one day she’ll wake up and find that this has all been a dream. And she’s right. Because the world isn’t drifting toward the sun at all, it’s drifting away from it, and the paralytic cold has put Norma into a fever dream.
This is “The Midnight Sun,” my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, and one that has come to seem grimly familiar. I also wake up adrift, in a desperate and unfamiliar reality, wondering if the last year in America has been a dream—I too expect catastrophe, but it’s impossible to know from which direction it will come, whether I am right to trust my senses or if I’m merely sleepwalking while the actual danger becomes ever-more present. One thing I do know is that I’m not alone: since the election of Donald Trump, it’s become commonplace to compare the new normal to living in the Twilight Zone, as Paul Krugman did in a 2017 New York Times op-ed titled “Living in the Trump Zone,” in which he compared the President to the all-powerful child who terrorizes his Ohio hometown in “It’s a Good Life,” policing their thoughts and arbitrarily striking out at the adults. But these comparisons do The Twilight Zone a disservice. The show’s articulate underlying philosophy was never that life is topsy-turvy, things are horribly wrong, and misrule will carry the day—it is instead a belief in a cosmic order, of social justice and a benevolent irony that, in the end, will wake you from your slumber and deliver you unto the truth.
Who among us hasn’t hummed, whistled or scat sung the theme song? When they rebooted the series in 1985, the Grateful Dead reimagined it thusly:
I bet you thought you could get through the Saturday post without a Dead reference. If you did, you must have relocated to the Twilight Zone.
I’ll give Rod Serling the last word of this segment with his intro to an episode about neo-Nazis:
I told you the TZ was both prescient and timeless. Believe me.
Let’s move on to a piece about judicial politics.
Jill Abramson on Clarence Thomas: Former Failing NYT executive editor Jill Abramson was deeply involved in the Thomas-Hill shitstorm. She even co-authored a book about it. She’s done some digging and uncovered new information proving that Silent Clarence lied under oath at his confirmation hearings. Anyone surprised? I thought not.
Abramson’s New York Magazine article is entitled The Case for Impeaching Clarence Thomas. It’s an excellent piece, well-documented and argued BUT moving to impeach Thomas as long as a Republican is in the White House is a terrible idea. Do we want him removed and replaced by a younger model? Isn’t Neil Gorsuck bad enough? Oh, the humanity.
Tweet Of The Week: ‘tit Rex is one of the most interesting additions to post-Katrina Carnival. They bill themselves as New Orleans’ only micro-krewe. The krewe feature miniature floats and the ‘tit is short for petite.
I missed this year’s parade, but they had a float satirizing the GOP’s cliched response to the massacre of the day: thoughts and prayers. This tweet from Herriman biographer and parade route book signer Michael Tisserand says it all:
Thoughts and prayers are not enough. They need to stop offering them and do something. Anything other than arming teachers, that is.
On a less somber note, pondering ‘tit Rex’s marvelous name has given me a benign earworm:
One earworm begets another:
Saturday GIF Horse: I’ve had Jimmy Cagney on my mind since re-watching White Heat recently. But the GIF comes from Billy Wilder’s hilarious Cold War/Coca Cola comedy One Two Three:
Saturday Classic: The Van Morrison tune was a tease for this segment. It came from the last of his remarkable run of albums from 1968-1972 when Van the Man could do no wrong.
Tupelo Honey is a fabulous album whereon Morrison and the Caledonia Soul Orchestra added pedal steel guitar to the mix. It’s best described as Irish country R&B rock. Now that’s eclectic.
That’s it for this week. I’ll let the Dennis Edwards era Temptations have the last word. Dennis is second from the left. Rest easy, sir.